If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day. Don’t give the Devil a chance. [Ephesians 4:26-27 (GNT)]
But now you must get rid of all these things: anger, passion, and hateful feelings. … The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make. [Colossians 3: 8a,15a (GNT)]
Anger itself isn’t the sin; it’s what we do with it that can make it a sin. [jsjdevotions]
For several years, our lake home has been for sale. Although one potential buyer has been circling our house for nearly two years, he’s had absolutely nothing good to say about the property, our broker or even us. Granted, this is his method of negotiation, but there was no need to be unpleasant, rude and argumentative. In good faith, we’d entered into an informal agreement with him but he hadn’t honored his side of the agreement. As I was writing yesterday’s meditation about anger, he finally made an offer on the house. Had it been made by anyone else, we would have been interested. Made by him, however, a man who’s been both disagreeable and uncompromising, our first reaction was “Absolutely, no!” We’d taken such a dislike to this party (someone we’ve never even met) that we didn’t want him to have the house no matter what he paid.
God does seem to have an uncanny sense of timing! There I was, writing about not being led by anger and yet we were letting anger lead us into making a foolish decision. Realizing it was nothing personal—just the way this man negotiates and probably deals with everyone else in his life—we made the deal. We didn’t have to like or respect him to sell him our house.
Anger and resentment, however, were still lingering in our hearts. While the buyer may have won the battle, we could still win the war. We didn’t have to tell him how to winterize the house, ready the hoists and piers for winter, or the quirky way the fireplace works. We weren’t obligated to share the names of the people who service the boat, mow, weed, trim trees, wash windows, and fill the propane. Although we sold the house furnished, much was not included in the inventory list. We didn’t have to leave him the extra light fixtures and light bulbs, spare glass for the fireplace, and books of directions for every appliance. It wasn’t necessary to leave the modem, water softener salt, hangers, fire extinguishers, extension cords, surge protectors, and directions for rigging the sailboat. We could take the children’s chairs and picnic table, crib, high chair, booster chairs, books, toys, games and the basketball backboard. The flash lights, coolers, grass seed, weed killer, and garden tools could have disappeared. Although we had no use for any of those things, out of spite, we were ready to take them to the Goodwill store or garbage dump before we’d leave anything for this man and his family.
Enjoying the taste of petty revenge, I went back to working on yesterday’s anger message. The Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit and even my own words convicted me and that taste of revenge immediately turned sour. Clearly, by thinking of ways to strike back, we were still sinfully leading with anger. We realized that we’d never feel good about selling the house until we let go of our pique and desire to even the score. Instead of exacting revenge, we decided to give the buyers all of that stuff and plenty more.
Letting go of anger and forgiving those who offend us are the only way God wants us to live and they’re the only way I want to live. Last week, as we departed the lake house for our final time, instead of being angry, we were happy. We pictured a family with four young children who would move into the beautiful house we’ve enjoyed for 37 years. We thought of the wonderful memories they’ll build as their children learn to swim, water ski, sail, fish, make s’mores and catch fireflies! We also left two bottles of champagne chilling in the refrigerator, a photo book I made of the lake’s wildflowers, my nearly world-famous recipe for buttermilk pancakes (our guests’ favorite breakfast since 1979) and our blessings to the new owner and his family!